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Alexis Tsipras Should Win the SYRIZA 'Civil War'

tsipras_28Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has achieved a lot using his charisma. He won the election, he formed a government immediately and got to work right away. He even managed to get behind him people who haven’t voted for him, or wouldn’t even think of voting for him. In less than a month, he has the majority of Greeks rooting for the negotiating team struggling to get Europe to agree with his government’s proposals. He even got the silent approval and support of opposition party members.
Who would have thought then, that the first guns pointed at him were not from the opposition but from inside the SYRIZA ranks. The sharp criticism Tsipras has received from prominent figures of the Greek Left like Manolis Glezos and Mikis Theodorakis after Friday’s deal with Greece’s creditors has shaken the party. A few SYRIZA MPs followed and criticized the party leader for his stance.
SYRIZA’s emblematic MEP Manolis Glezos was the first to fire at him by stating he apologizes to the Greek people for contributing to the illusion that the Troika will be kicked out, the Memorandum will be torn to pieces and austerity measures will be abolished. Far worse, he asked for SYRIZA voters to protest and take action against the government stance. And the language that he used belongs to student manifestos and not to an experienced politician. For example, calling Greece “the oppressed” and Europe “the oppressor” sounds immature at least.
It is true that Tsipras did not keep all his election campaign promises for the simple reason that if he had done so, Greece would have been out of the Eurozone by now, isolated and strapped for much-needed cash. However, one of his promises was to keep Greece in the common currency bloc, something that swayed more voters his way and secured the SYRIZA victory. So, no one can blame him that he didn’t keep this one.
There was an ambivalence in people’s expectations and SYRIZA’s pre-election pledges: you couldn’t “tear up the hated Memorandum” and remain in the Eurozone because, simply, the Memorandum was a condition to stay in the Eurozone. In other words, you can’t default on your payments and at the same time ask for more loans.
Also, you cannot ask for financial aid without any obligations. You cannot ask for solidarity when you say to those who lent you that you refuse to pay them back, especially when you proclaim that you fight for the good of all Europe.
Tsipras has learned a lot of valuable lessons during the first three weeks of his administration. The Eurogroup negotiations was a crash course in reality for him. The compromises he made – and they were many – were indeed for the good of the Greek people. By managing to replace the word “Troika” with “institutions” or “Memorandum” with “agreement” has boosted the pride of Greek people, and this is no small feat.
Tsipras has shown great maturity in the last few days. He silently admitted to himself that the cash register is empty and no leftist rhetoric can fill it. He measured the pros and cons of a head-on collision with Europe and did the sensible thing: to sharply turn the wheel. If there was ever a dilemma for him whether he should satisfy the majority of Greek people who want to remain in the Eurozone or SYRIZA‘s radical left platform who would prefer to see Greece isolated, he chose to do the right thing.
As for his left-side critics, the marxist fantasies may still ring in their ears after the election but they don’t have a solid, realistic proposal as for what line the new government should follow. Until they do, they should leave Tsipras alone to do the job.

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